Henry Srebrnik, [Charlottetown, PEI] Guardian
This past January, hundreds of businessmen attended a China-Israel trade summit in Beijing.
Amir Gal-Or, founder and head of Infinity Group, a China-Israel private equity firm, spoke about long-term innovation cooperation between China and Israel.
He reminded listeners at the first ever China-Israel Technology, Innovation, and Investment Summit that both countries have viewed entrepreneurship as a key future growth strategy.
About 40 per cent of all venture capital flowing into Israel came from China in 2015, according to Ziva Eger, chief executive of the Foreign Investments and industrial Cooperation division at the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry. “2016 will be much bigger than that,” she added, and may even double.
Lionel Friedfeld and Philippe Metoudi, authors of the 2015 book Israel and China: From Silk Road to Innovation Highway, contend that the two countries are perfect partners in this new era of globalization.
They share strong and complementary competitive advantages with Israel contributing technology and innovation and China providing robust financial and manufacturing capability.
The recent establishment of Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a partnership between China’s Shantou University and the Israel’s Technion, is a prime example of the attempt by the two countries to cooperate in higher education, training students in research and development.
Israel excels in fields where Chinese technology eagerly looks for breakthroughs. Modern agriculture, medical devices, and cyber security are among the sectors in which China is interested in developing partnerships.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited, the Chinese company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, last year became an investor of the Israel-based venture fund Jerusalem Venture Partners, a venture capital firm known for its interest in cyber security.
China’s Bright Food closed a deal in 2015 to purchase a majority stake in Israeli dairy giant Tnuva.
And Fosun International, one of China’s biggest private conglomerates, acquired Israeli medical device firm Alma Lasers in 2013.
Israeli companies partnering with Chinese ones gain more than venture capital. “It’s not only about money,” remarked Ophir Gore, head of the trade mission at the Israeli Embassy in Beijing. “It’s getting access to the Chinese market.”
Greater trade with China would also diminish the leverage Europe uses in its attempts to compel Israel to accept European Middle East policy, noted Alon Levkowitz, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Ramat Gan, Israel.
To facilitate economic cooperation in the Middle East and elsewhere, in 2014 China founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a counterweight to the U.S.-dominated World Bank, which Israel joined last year.
When China was a truly Marxist-Leninist-Maoist country, it was ideologically virulently “anti-Zionist.” Since that has now withered away, with China reverting to its classical Confucian culture, so has any lingering dislike of Israel.